‘Heat’ is hilarious, ‘Song’ is sweet and ‘Down’ is a disaster in theaters

Among the new movies that were released Friday, June 28 in theaters throughout the Valley are a buddy-cop comedy in which Sandra Bullock is partnered up with Melissa McCarthy, a tear-jerker in which Terence Stamp learns how to get in touch with his own emotions and an actioner in which Channing Tatum saves the President of the United States.

100 Bloody Acres

Damon Herriman and Angus Sampson play brothers who, struggling to keep their organic blood and bone fertilizer business afloat, stumble upon three travelers stranded on a remote country road and cook up a radical solution to their supply problem. Playing exclusively at Harkins Valley Art. (NR – 91 minutes)

It seems that some businesses will do just about anything to stay afloat. However, as Australian import “100 Bloody Acres” theorizes, one moral lapse leads to another until somebody ends up getting processed alive through a meat grinder. The comedic horror flick features guts and gore galore, all of which is played for absolute authenticity and lots of laughs – albeit extremely dark ones. By fertilizing their first feature film with a cornucopia of clever cracks, a couple of complex characters and an ounce of organic heart, Cameron and Colin Cairnes have harvested a humorously homicidal motion picture. (Thumbs Up!)

Dirty Wars

Filmmaker Rick Rowley follows investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill as he is pulled into an unexpected journey chasing down the hidden truth behind America’s expanding covert wars. Playing exclusively at Harkins Shea 14. (NR – 87 minutes)

“Dirty Wars” is incredibly intriguing, absolutely alarming and engrossingly eye-opening. It is a genuinely well-made documentary that does a remarkable job of drawing viewers into its investigation, which is actually akin to a real-life mystery – albeit with deeply disquieting consequences. Having said that, even with its oddly dramatized approach, the motion picture will appeal primarily to political-junkies whereas the rest of us will become bored from time to time. Nonetheless, the shocking nature of it all combined with the sheer significance of its subject and the far-reaching motif of fighting for our right to knowledge make for a meritorious movie. (Thumbs Up!)

The Heat

Sandra Bullock plays an uptight FBI agent who is paired with a testy Boston cop (Melissa McCarthy) in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. Neither woman has ever had a partner – or a friend for that matter. (R – 117 minutes)

“The Heat” is so fantastically funny that it should probably be illegal. “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig’s new female-fueled take on the buddy-cop genre makes a perfect pairing of stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, proving that we all need a partner – or, more universally, a friend – in life to balance out our personal imperfections. And while the comedic actioner’s story certainly does not break any molds, its level of hilarity definitely does. The always amusing McCarthy scores some of the largest out-loud laughs this year with her incredibly cantankerous character whose every line will shock and offend. (Thumbs Up!)

Hey Bartender

Filmmaker Douglas Tirola explores the rebirth of the bartender and the comeback of the cocktail while featuring the world’s most renowned bartenders with access to the most exclusive bars in New York. Screening 5:45 p.m. Sunday, June 30 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 1 exclusively at the FilmBar. (NR – 92 minutes)

Much like a night out at an extremely popular and therefore incredibly crowded nightclub, “Hey Bartender” comes across as a bit too chaotic. Filmmaker Douglas Tirola occasionally touches on the very interesting theme in that any aspect of life – including cocktail culture – is capable of being considered an artform. His documentary is delightful when it shines a spotlight on said artform and the stars who bring it to life. But Tirola too often resorts to the less focused and therefore also less insightful theme that speaks to drink’s elusive promise of friendship and love. (Thumbs Down!)

Maniac

Elijah Wood plays the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store whose obsession with a young artist (Nora Arnezeder) escalates until it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion in him to stalk and kill. Playing exclusively at the FilmBar. (NR – 89 minutes)

“Maniac” is a merciless masterpiece of a motion picture. By essentially placing viewers in the driver’s seat for a first-hand look at a psychopath’s vicious actions and savage thoughts, director Franck Khalfoun’s update of the 1980 slasher will shock and disturb you unlike any other horror flick you have ever seen. That is because you do not watch this movie. You experience it. After all, the only thing more unsettling than looking into a killer’s eyes is looking through a killer’s eyes – which, as this film suggests, yields some visions that are less stimulated by reality than they are by neurosis. (Thumbs Up!)

Unfinished Song

Terence Stamp plays a grumpy pensioner who honors his wife’s passion for performing by joining the unconventional local choir to which she used to belong – a process that helps him build bridges with his estranged son (Christopher Eccleston). Gemma Arterton also stars. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5. (PG-13 – 93 minutes)

Some of “Unfinished Song’s” musical selections seem somewhat misguided – none more so than Salt-n-Pepa’s “Let’s Talk About Sex.” However, if seeing Vanessa Redgrave sing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” to her cantankerous spouse – so brilliantly played by Terrence Stamp – does not completely break down your emotional barriers, then you very well may need to have your heart checked for you probably do not even have one. Granted, the new dramedy is very gimmicky, manipulative and mostly predictable, but it is impossible to remain unmoved by its story of everlasting devotion and the essentiality of an optimistic outlook on life. (Thumbs Up!)

White House Down

Channing Tatum plays a Capitol policeman who, while on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, springs into action to save his child and protect the president (Jamie Foxx) from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders. (PG-13 – 137 minutes)

Only five words are needed to review “White House Down” – “Olympus Has Fallen” was better. It was more explosive, it was more exciting and it did not star Joey King. The young actress’s role in the film – a character who, wise beyond her years, saves the day despite her small stature – is the perfect example of what is wrong with director Roland Emmerich’s new actioner. There is entirely too much dependence on light-hearted comedy. Granted, with a script as silly as the one that James Vanderbilt provides for this motion picture, it almost has to have some element of self-awareness. But the stakes here are simply too great to scoff at. (Thumbs Down!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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